Writing Progress: Week Ending November 5, 2011

Another slow week on the writing front, but I’ve got an excuse!

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 1,472 words

Grand Total: 1,472 words

I had the time to write this week… but I didn’t spend as much of it writing as normally I would have.  That’s because on several days where I would’ve had good writing time I was reading instead.  I finished up a book this week (I’ll be talking about it more sometime this week or next), and I’d hit the “must finish this now” stage.  I enjoyed the book – with caveats – but I’ll save the details on all that for later.

Writing-wise, I don’t have much to say. The time I spent writing went okay, but I had  no major insights or new thoughts… Just chugging along.

I could say a little about how, as I continue with worldbuilding and background notes… I find that the world I’ve created just increases in complexity each time I sit down to write.  There’s a lot going on behind the scenes of this story.  Enough that I’ve come to suspect that, if I put some thought into it, I’ve got enough to support a second novel in this world if I choose to.  My plan was always for this to be stand-alone, and so far that’s still my plan.  But I can see value in producing a second book in this world at some point. 

Regardless, this novel will have a complete plot – a beginning, middle and end – and you won’t have to read a second novel to get the rest of the story.  But there’s certainly room in this world for more stories.  For now, though, I don’t worry about it too much.  I can come back to it later, after I’ve figured this novel out.

How was your writing week?

Writing Progress: Week Ending October 29, 2011

This was a better week than I’d originally planned or expected, writing-wise:

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 1,259 words

Grand Total: 1,259 words

As I mentioned during the week, Dear Wife and I were working on a house-cleaning and redecorating project, which I’d expected to consume most or all of this week.  But a little before midweek we decided we’d done enough for now, and that we’d postpone some of the clean-up for a later date.  I’m not saying we’ve left the house a total mess (although we appreciate a heads-up before visitors arrive, just so we can tidy-up), but I’m talking about bigger, less-frequent sorts of deep-cleaning type projects.

Anyway, with that no longer taking the majority of my time, I actually had a good opportunity to write later in the week, so there was measurable progress.

I’m still working my way through the background stuff… but I’m feeling really close.  I’ve completed between 75-80% of the “background history”, and this week I passed the 30,000 word mark.  That’s 30,000 words of background notes and history.  Not all of that is the history, but the majority of it is.  So if we call 30,000 words the equivalent of three-quarters mark on this history… that suggests I’ve another 10,000 words or less to go to finish this history.  After that, I’ll next be focusing on character bios, including a few short vignettes in first-person for the major characters.  (The novel itself will be in a third-person-limited.)  And finally I’ll focus on the plot outline.  And then, it’s on to the first draft.

I’ll continue to work on other related background notes as I write the first draft.  The history covers a lot by itself – making reference to nations, religions, political organizations, and other related things.  But there are things that aren’t fully covered in the history, like details about languages (which will influence some of the naming of things in the story) and mythology.  And I’m still working through the magic system and trying to iron it out.  But I don’t need all of that figured out perfectly before I start writing.  The other parts, however, I really feel will help give the story the direction and velocity it needs.

So, I’m feeling pretty good about it all.  How was your writing week?

Writing Progress: Week Ending October 22, 2011

I expected this, but last week was a very poor week, wordcount-wise:

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 462 words

Grand Total: 462 words

As I mentioned in a bit of a throwaway line last week, I expected my productivity to take a steep dive for a little while, and this is the realization of that expectation.  I mentioned in that post that I was starting on a a non-writing-related projec that I expected to consume a lot of my time – and it has.

The project is sort of off-topic for this blog, but basically it involves some redecorating, house work, and yard clean-up at the Casa Chez Watkins.  Mundane stuff, but necessary, and time-consuming.  I expect it will consume most or all of my writing time for this week, as well, so I anticipate a similarly low-ball week, writing-wise.

Sometimes life intervenes.  You can’t help that.  You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do when it happens.

Life intervenes for me a lot.  And I wonder if I ought to have a more regular or more consistent writing schedule.  Say even if I then only get to write one or two days a week, if that time is set aside, agreed-upon beforehand… would I fare better? Continue reading

Writing Progress: Week Ending October 15, 2011

So I had a really good week, this week:

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 5,389 words

Grand Total: 5,389 words

This week ranks among one of my better weeks, writing-wise, and that’s a pretty good feeling.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t nearly enough to finish all of the prep-work I need to do for this novel.  I’ve written between two-thirds to three-quarters of the relevant history of the world this tale takes place in.  I’ve switched to a format that somewhere between outline and narrative to complete the history.  But I’ve still only got a handful of character bios written (like two or three out of something around about a dozen or more), and I still don’t have an outline.

And… most important of all… I don’t have an ending.

I’d been hoping that as I work through the background and other notes, that an ending would make itself obvious to me: something that’s intuitive that ties together all the pieces and elements of the tale (and there are quite a few).  But so far, it hasn’t come to me.  I’m mulling over a couple possible options… but neither excites me.  There are aspects of each that tie different elements together, but leave others completely unconnected.  I want an ending that brings them all together.  And… I guess it’s part of how I work… but the way I’ve always written, I almost always, with rare exception, know the ending before I start. 

Part of the problem, I guess, is that this is conceptually a stand-alone novel… but also one that I want to leave things just open enough that I could write a second to go with it.

Endings are difficult to get right, of course.  So maybe it shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

Productivity-wise, this was an interesting week.  It was a very good week, as compared to my average.  But the large majority of that productivity was completed on just one day – Sunday last week.  I don’t get opportunities to sit and write uninterrupted for hours at a time very often – but I relish those opportunities when they come.  The crazy ups and downs of productivity this week have given me a lot to think about.  I may talk about that later this week.

Well… that’s pretty much how my week went.  Tell me about yours.

Writing Progress: Week Ending October 8, 2011

This week, I finally got back in the novel-writing saddle, albeit my progress was a little soft:

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 1,541 words

Grand Total: 1,541 words

I submitted “Story of G” last week, of course.  I’m still so nervous.  There’s no question, to me, that “Story of G” is my best work yet.  Even so… I’m having these nightmares that it’s really not that good at all.  Or that I really needed another round-or-two of edits, because maybe the main character is too weak or the plot to byzantine, or whatever.  I don’t know.  Time will tell.

Having done that, I finally got back to working on the novel, “Book of M”.  I’m not impressed with my progress.  About a-month-or-more ago Dear Wife issued a challenge to me: finish my background notes and assorted whatever and be ready to start on “Book of M” proper – to actually start writing the story, and not just the backstory – by the end of the Columbus Day holiday.  That’s… tomorrow.

And… well… I didn’t write a word of anything related to “Book of M” for the past three weeks.  My attention was focused exclusively on “Story of G” and getting it out on time.  The novel-related deadlines were all artificial, self-imposed, and anyways they were a long way off.  “Story of G” was much more immediate.

The result, however, is that I’d forgotten some of the details related to the world of “Book of M”. Continue reading

Writing Progress: Week Ending October 1, 2011

So, I did some writing this week:

Story of G:

  • New Draft Wordcount: ??net new words
  • Other Notes Wordcount: 0 words

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words

Grand Total: ?? words

I didn’t really keep track of wordcount for “Story of G” this week.  I didn’t really have time.  Because it was crunch time.  I had a semi-hard deadline of September 30th to finish all revisions and edits on “Story of G”.  I say semi-hard because I was aiming for a contest deadline: but the contest in question, Writers of the Future, is a rolling annual contest with regular quarterly deadlines.  If I missed this quarter, I could always do next quarter.  But September 30th was also the end of their contest year – meaning that if I missed it I might have to wait a whole year to find out how well I did… at least in theory.  They judge the entries quarterly, and the 1st-place winners of each quarter go on to compete head-to-head for the annual top-spot.  So that statement I made would only be valid if I actually made the top spot for the quarter I entered… You can judge the chances of that however you like.

Well… yadda yadda yadda contest deadlines yadda yadda yadda.  What about my writing you ask?  Well, I’m happy to report that I stayed busy all week and just squeaked the deadline with about an hour-ish to spare give or take.  (The deadline is midnight of the 30th… but I didn’t see where it said for which timezone.)  So… happy dance time!

Now comes the wait-and-see part.  Which is going to be a while.  Probably months.

Last time I did this, about this time last year, I ended up making the Honorable Mention list.  This time, I believe my story is better.  My honest assessment: it’s impossible to say how well I’ll do because I have no idea what I’ll be up against.  But regardless of what I’m up against, I’m confident this is at least a Semi-finalist level story, which is a couple steps higher.  If I can achieve that level, that’ll make me quite happy.

As for “Book of M”… I just missed having time to work on it this week past… I ended up writing for the blog instead.  But next week, now that I’m finally done with “Story of G”… I have no excuses.  It’s time to get cracking on “Book of M”.

So, how was your writing week?

Writing Progress: Week Ending September 24, 2011

This week the big writing news was hitting the end of the second draft on “Story of G”:

Story of G:

  • New Draft Wordcount: 28 net new words
  • Other Notes Wordcount: 0 words

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words

Grand Total: 28 words

Wordcount-wise, doesn’t seem like a big week.  But it’s a good feeling to hit the end of a draft and call it a wrap.  So, I celebrated by finishing that puzzle I was working on with dear Wife.  I didn’t think to take pictures of the puzzle until after we’d disassembled it… But for those interested, it was the underwater food landscape seen on this page.

This week, I’ll be cleaning up the second draft – which added quite a lot of new material – polishing it off and sending it off.  I’ve got about 5 days to make this thing happen by the September 30th deadline.  No pressure!

Actually, really, no pressure.  If I miss the deadline, it just resets for the following quarter.  It’s sort of arbitrary that I’ve chosen to have it ready for this quarter. Continue reading

“Story of G” Draft 2: Complete

As of last night… the current draft of “Story of G” is now complete, at about 11,600 words.

That’s far longer than what I originally intended for this story.  I have a terrible habit, in that regard, and it’s been hard to break.  Even as I was deleting things I was adding a lot more new material.

I’ve planned another read-through to clean up this draft and get it presentable, but I’m hoping some of you Dear Readers will help me out with that task as well.  I don’t need much help, just a couple people who wouldn’t mind looking at this draft.  Last time I was mostly interested in story-craft: characterization, story-structure, plot, and so on.  I’m still a little interested in that – mostly because I still have some anxiety over many of the new scenes – but this time around I’m more interested in sentence structure, grammar, spelling, style, passive voice, showing and telling, and that sort of thing.

I’m sort of hoping for at least one person who’s seen the story before and one who hasn’t.  I’ve got one volunteer already, so I’m still taking applications.  😉

And thanks in advance, everyone!

Writing Progress: Week Ending September 17, 2011

“Story of G” is in the home stretch:

Story of G:

  • New Draft Wordcount: 833 net new words
  • Other Notes Wordcount: 0 words

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words

Grand Total: 833 words

This was, hopefully, the penultimate week spent working exclusively on “Story of G”.  I’m about 80% done with this revised draft.  Even though I’m well into the section where I expected to delete a lot, I still ended up adding wordcount.  The portions I deleted needed new segues and new parts to their scenes.  One of the difficult things about this part is that I’ve had to delete some lines of dialog that I really liked because I cant fit them into the new structure of the story.

The ending of “Story of G” is where a lot of the most radical change is taking place.  There was an extra scene added, and the final two scenes are undergoing some significant changes.  Making some of those changes, however, I hit a wall that stopped me for most of one writing day.  I couldn’t figure out how to move from one heavily-revised scene to the next.  I’m still working through that new transition.

I also started a passive voice sweep of what I’ve written so far.  That’s not something that’s very fun. Continue reading

Writing Progress: Week Ending September 10, 2011

It’s been a busy week, but I managed to get some good writing work done:

Story of G:

  • New Draft Wordcount: 1,518 net new words
  • Other Notes Wordcount: 0 words

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words

Grand Total: 1,518 words

This week started off with a holiday (Labor Day for any of you who don’t celebrate it).  You might think that means “Yay!  Extra Writing Time!”  In fact, what it means is “Yay!  Extra Family Time!”  When I get a little time off, I feel like I don’t want to waste it, and that means that I really try to spend a lot of time enjoying it with my family – and that extends into the evening when I might ordinarily do some writing.

Another somewhat unusual thing happened this week.  Dear Wife and I bought a puzzle to work on together.  And yes, you guess it, I’ve lost some writing time to working on the puzzle.  It’s tough though.  The puzzle sits there, unfinished.  It’s beckoning to me… calling to me.  How can I not try and put a few pieces together?  An unfinished puzzle causes a deep cognitive dissonance within me that can only be resolved by putting pieces together.  Oddly, though, I’m not terribly good at puzzles.  Dear Wife has been much more successful at assembling large chunks of the puzzle so far.

Despite those things, however, I’ve had a good week for writing.  I tried to control the siren call of the unfinished puzzle by setting a specific amount of time to work on it before transitioning to writing on several days.  This served me well.  Once again, this week, I did no writing work on “Book of M”, choosing instead to focus on “Story of G”. Continue reading